Since the data from digital medical images is generally transmitted via the Internet, phone lines or a WAN or LAN connection, teleradiology expanded rapidly in step with faster broadband connections. This, combined with new CT technologies, turned medical imaging into a key tool in the emergency room. Today, virtually nothing of consequence takes place in medicine without an image.
However, ER doctors are generally not trained to read MRIs, so for rural hospitals that only have one radiologist, the need for having a radiologist available off-site 24/7 became a necessity. Teleradiology is especially important when a subspecialist, such as a musculoskeletal, or a pediatric radiologist is required, as they are often not available on site in more rural locations. This situation fueled the growth of a new teleradiology outsourcing service industry.
In order to ensure patient privacy, teleradiology systems must be HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) compliant.